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Technology Addiction

Can’t Get Off Facebook? America’s First Technology Addiction Rehab Opens for Business

posted 11:24 PM EST, Thu August 20, 2009
Can’t Get Off Facebook? © Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks

Has technology taken over your life? How about a 45 day techno-detox at America’s first internet addiction treatment facility, just outside of Seattle Washington?

America’s first internet addiction treatment facility has opened its doors, and already has its first patient, a 19 year old teen, hopelessly addicted to World of Warcraft.

The ReStart internet Addiction Recovery Program, located near Seattle Washington, the nation’s most connected city, offers internet addicts a chance to break free during a 45 day technology detox program, that runs $14 500.

Dr. Hillary Cash PhD, the author of the book, Video Games and Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control, has been counseling those addicted to technology for more than a decade and is now a co-founder of the clinic, with partner, social worker Cosette Rae, MSW.

Cash explains the need for the treatment they offer, saying, “Both China and South Korea have designated Internet Addiction as their #1 public health danger and have responded by developing multiple treatment programs. The United States, by contrast, has been slower to recognize and respond to the problem but now is beginning to take some active steps…This program is part of that process." The 2 therapists say their mission is to help people “find balance and reconnect to the real world.”

Internet addicts in recovery at ReStart live in a country house on 5 acres of forested land, and spend their time engaged in everything but online activities. The therapeutic program is based, in part, on the 12 steps of “Net Addiction”.

And they already have a first client, 19 year old Ben Alexander from Iowa City, whose World of Warcraft addiction led to college failure and to compulsive game play marathons that had him falling asleep at his keyboard.

Alexander spent time in a more conventional addiction treatment program before his parents found the ReStart program, but complained that, "It was kind of hard to really relate to the other people there."

Alexander is currently in the program, and in addition to time spent in therapy sessions, enjoys looking after the property animals and spending time cross country running, a pursuit he used to love before getting lost to technology addiction. He says that although he suspects he’ll again use the internet, that his time in technology detox has helped him to regain control.

The Signs of Internet Addiction

Here are the 12 signs of internet addiction, based on those developed by program founder, Dr. Cash. She says that answering yes to 3 or 4 of the following suggests a problem, and 5 or more yes answers suggests an addiction.

  1. Do you spend an increasing amount of time online or at the computer?
  1. Do you try to control your computer use and fail?
  1. Do you feel euphoric while using the internet or computers?
  1. Do you crave computer use?
  1. Do you choose to spend time on the computer or online at the expense of real world relationships?
  1. Do you feel irritable or restless when not online?
  1. Do you lie about your computer use or how much time you spend online or at the computer?
  1. Does your computer use habit cause you problems at school or on the job?
  1. Do you ever feel depressed, guilty or ashamed about the way you use technology?
  1. Has your use of the internet or computers changed your sleeping habits?
  1. Has your computer use habit caused you any physical problems, such as weight gain, or back problems?
  1. Do you use computers now at the expense of other activities you used to enjoy?
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